Tous les thés proviennent d’une seule et même plante, le théier (une variété de camélia). C’est le travail de la feuille, une fois cueillie, qui détermine la couleur du thé.
Les feuilles du thé sont chauffées à haute température, il ne connaît aucune fermentation. On en trouve différentes sortes comme le thé au jasmin, le thé au riz soufflé (mon préféré!), ou aromatisé aux fleurs ou aux fruits.
D’origine chinoise, très délicat et rare, il subit une légère fermentation à l’étouffée et ses feuilles ne sont pas travaillées. C’est une sorte de thé vert de très haute qualité. Seuls les bourgeons duveteux sont utilisés.
La couleur rouge correspond à celle de l’infusion et non à celle des feuilles. Il provient d’une plante, proche des acacias et différente du théier, poussant en Afrique du Sud, le rooibos, qui ne contient pas de caféine et peu de tanin.
The other day I was invited to a workshop by Palais des Thés (at their tea school) a enriching experience for a tea addict like me! We had fun finding perfume notes on fragrance blotters that we had to associate with teas, enjoyed a tea cocktail …
Here are some tips that I have learned that you can also use to enjoy a good cup of tea!
Rule 1. Water
It may seem trivial but after tasting different waters, it seemed obvious: a strong mineral water (tap water, Hépar,…) doesn’t let the tannins of the leaves out and make a brown film appear in your pretty mug (and incidentally on your teeth), and makes the tea taste bitter.
Verdict: use filtered water, a simple life-changing rule and accessible to all!
Rule 2. Temperature
It is also important to follow the recommendations made on your packaging of tea in terms of water temperature. Green teas prefer water at 70°C when black teas will release their flavors at 95°C. How do we do it? Today there are very practical kettles where you can choose the temperature of the water (I personally stop the water before it boils completely at random…).
Rule 3. The infusion time
As for temperature, just look at the instructions for your type of tea. A green tea that infused for too long will give an unpleasant bitter taste as you have probably already observed!
The different teas
All teas come from a single plant, a variety of Camellia. The same leaf, once harvested, can be processed differently, and will determine the color of tea.
The tea leaves are heated to high temperature, and do not have any fermentation. We find different types such as jasmine tea, grilled rice green tea called Genmaicha (my favorite!), or flavored ones with fruits or flowers.
Of Chinese origin, very delicate and rare, it undergoes a slight fermentation and its leaves are not processed. It is a kind of green tea of high quality. Only downy buds are used.
Also of Chinese origin, it is a delicate tea that undergoes slight oxidation. It is rich in antioxidants and low in caffeine.
The red color corresponds to the infusion and not the leaves. It comes from a sort of acacia plant, growing in South Africa, the rooibos, which contains no caffeine and low tannin.
Black tea, the most popular in the world (the Chinese call it red tea) is fully fermented. Its manufacturing is done in five steps: withering, rolling, fermenting, roasting and sorting.
Pu Er tea
Pu Er tea or post-fermented tea is a dark tea improving with time. It is produced in the Chinese province of Yunnan from a variety of tea unique to this region, Da Ye. It has a particular taste, earthy reminiscent of leaves and mushrooms.
Its manufacturing process is identical to that of black tea but the leaves are lightly toasted on a hot iron plate and then placed over a fire (during the step of rolling).
Once the tea leaves prepared, additives can be used to flavor tea, flowers (jasmine, rose), essences (bergamot, lemon), spices (ginger, cardamom, cinnamon). Scented or flavored teas can be made from any type of tea. The mint tea and Earl Grey (bergamot) are the most famous ones.
Maté is an infusion of a plant called yerba mate, a variety of holly, native to South America. This drink can be consumed hot or cold and has a strong bitter taste.